Diplomatic Stance of the Japanese Business Community in the First World War: Focusing on relations with major warring nations and the concept of economic alliance, in the middle of the war

Author Name SAKAMOTO Masazumi (Consulting Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. October 2022 22-J-038
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The history of Japan's foreign relations during the First World War can be thought of as having two currents: a diplomatic history centered on the Asia-Pacific region, mainly in terms of Chinese interests and relations with the United States connected with that history, and a trade history which is described as the term of economic growth. However, little attention has been paid to the relationship between the two, e.g., the business community's interests regarding Japan's foreign policy. The analysis of the tone of the major economic newspapers in the mid-First World War period and the trade chronology compiled by the Ministry of Finance reveal that the business community had certain diplomatic interests toward the major warring nations of the First World War, such as Britain, Russia, and Germany, depending on their trade situation. At the same time, they reveal that the business community had expressed significant concern about the concept of the inter-Allied economic alliance, including a postwar regime, and decoupling from antagonist countries, as discussed at the Economic Conference of the Allies in 1916. The results suggest that considering the intentions (interests) of the business community while determining Japan's foreign policy is significant at a time when trade and diplomacy are closely linked.